Stan’s Soapbox – Marvel Age #45 (December 1986)

Hi, Hallowed One! Got a treat for you today. We’re gonna travel back through time together – and you won’t even haveta buy a ticket!

Y’see, while I’m breathlessly waiting to receive all your letters telling me what to write about in these imperishable articles, ol’ Slim-Jim Salicrup suggested that I lead you back a quarter of a century to the creation of the Marvel Universe.

Now I’ll be glad to do that, glad to tell you all the secrets about how to create your own little universe, or cosmos, or even just a humble little galaxy if you prefer – but you have to promise not to reveal a word of this to our cantankerous competitors. Hey, I know I can trust you.

Speaking of universes, I wanna tell you something right up front. By now you’ve undoubtedly read and savored the big, special, 25th Anniversary issue of THE FANTASTIC FOUR. Well, I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank one of the best story-men I know for writing the plot of that sizzlin’ super epic. No, you silly person, I’m not referring to Irving Forbush, though he’s probably good, too. I mean none other than your ever-lovin’ editor in chief, Gentleman Jim Shooter.

You see, Jim and I thought it would be a great idea for the first editor in chief (my own smilin’ self) and the present editor in chief (little Jolly Jimmy) to team up on this extra special collectors’ item issue. (Of course, even if I didn’t think it was a good idea, you don’t say no to a guy who looks down at you even when you’re standing on tippy toes!)

Anyway, not only is ol’ High-Pockets a crackerjack script writer, but he’s got to be one of the most talented plotters in the biz. He did such a brilliant job of tying together all the divergent elements of the FF story that my own little task of writing the dialogue and captions was easy as tripping over a wrinkled rug. So here’s to your Bullpen’s rollickin’, rock-steady ramrod – consider thyself dutifully No-Prized, O multi-talented Elongated One!

And now it’s time to journey back to the early days of Marvel, when Howard the Duck was just an egg and heroes were a-bornin’!

I’m frequently asked how we originally planned the entire Marvel Universe. The answer is, we didn’t! It just sort of happened. For example…the FF, Hulk, Spidey, Thor, Avengers, and Daredevil were first Marvel titles. Well, we weren’t thinking “universe” when we created them. All we had in mind was making our fun-filled little epics as realistic as possible. That’s why our heroes lived in real cities (i.e. New York) rather than Metropolis, Gotham, Plainview or wherever. Also, in continuing to strive for realism, I got a kick out of having characters from one comic occasionally run into other from another comic. Hence, we started our crossover appearances our guest shots.

Remember once when Sub-Mariner needed a lawyer? Who did he go to? Matt Murdock, of course. And whenever we needed to show some news photographers in one of our mags, you’d be apt to find Peter Parker on the scene, even though he had nothing to do with the story itself. Well, little by little, we realized our characters were all inhabiting the same world. And we looked at it, and it was good!

But now, let’s take a quantum leap forward into the present again. Today, the mighty Marvel Universe has become so detailed, so complex, so incredibly fascinating to both readers and researchers alike that Shooter’s Strike Force is presently producing three (count ‘em, THREE!) separate publications devoted exclusively to keeping all of us (including the Bullpen itself) up-to-date about who’s who and what’s what – not to mention where, when, why and how!

For those of you who’ve been dallying in Asgard these past few years, the names of the priceless publications are THE OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE, which lists and describes characters from A to Z; THE OFFICIAL MARVEL INDEX SERIES, telling what happened in each ish, title by title; and MARVEL SAGA, re-telling stories from 25 years ago till now, in chronological order!

However, let me squelch the rumor that we’re now competing with the ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA. It’s totally untrue. Probably won’t happen for at least another week or two!

Well, if I don’t wrap this up now you’re liable to think I’m trying to sell you something – which isn’t a bad idea!

So, till next ish, take your vitamins, wear your seat belt and stay out of drafts! Readers like you are hard to find!